herald

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Michel Platini and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein front-runners for top FIFA job

UEFA President Michel Platini (R) congratulates FIFA President Sepp Blatter after he was re-elected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland
UEFA President Michel Platini (R) congratulates FIFA President Sepp Blatter after he was re-elected at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland

AFTER Sepp Blatter announced he was quitting as FIFA president yesterday, several names were touted to take over as the most powerful person in world football.

Jerome Valcke, the current FIFA general secretary, and Blatter’s long-time fixer, would have been among the favourites to replace him before the events of the past week.

But yesterday, before Blatter resigned, he was under pressure to explain a letter, proving that he was aware of a $10m (€9m) payment from South African officials to Jack Warner, described by US investigators as a bribe.

Michel Platini would be a “good president”, Blatter of the current head of UEFA three years ago. For Platini, the time may have arrived for him to step up to the top job.

The UEFA chief has often said he does not want to be FIFA president, but that was probably because he did not want to take on Blatter and face the embarrassment of losing.

With his former mentor out of the way, the Frenchman might take on the challenge of reforming world football’s governing body.

Experienced in the murky world of football politics, Platini is a smart operator and will be the number one choice for many.

The president of the Jordan Football Association, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, was defeated by Blatter in last week’s presidential elections but is now in with a great chance of securing the position.

“It is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport,” Ali had said in the build-up to the elections.

The leading challenger to Blatter fought a valiant campaign and did well to secure 73 votes in last Friday’s vote in Zurich.

Despite no longer being a FIFA vice-president and vowing to walk away from the organisation if he lost, he is still involved in football administration through the West Asian Football Federation. This makes him eligible to stand.

Well-connected, he is highly regarded throughout the world game and is seen as a clean and safe pair of hands.

Even some of those who did not vote for him privately said how impressed they were with his ideas for making FIFA a more transparent and accountable organisation.

He charmed the world football family during his campaign and would be a popular choice if he was to throw his hat into the ring again.

Former Portuguese international Luis Figo and Dutchman Michael van Praag also have an outside chance.

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